Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mission Letter 10/20/2014

Hello, everybody!

So, another week having 4 people in what really is a 2 person apartment! Hooray! Even though it's cramped, and I sleep on a couch that's shorter than I am tall, and my companion sleeps on the floor on a not-too-good pad, and we live out of suitcases, and have no shelves, and there's ONE stove in the whole place, we're having a blast, because it's just fun living in a 4 person apartment. We tell jokes almost every night before bed. It's been a blast.

But we're still looking forward to having an apartment in the city where I'll actually be serving because right now we travel 45 minutes on public transportation to get there, and 45 minutes to get home. So some days, like Sundays, we only have 1 hour in our area before we have to leave again. I also still don't have a bike, so we do lots and lots of walking.

Chinese is a difficult language.We went to church yesterday, and I understood about 2.243569% of what was happening. Yup. It's very hard to concentrate on what's happening when you don't know what's happening. It's weird; I've grown terribly accustomed to not knowing what people are saying or what's happening around me. Because I almost never know what's happening. Oh well, it will come.

It's still hard, because we technically have 4 investigators; 1 who came to General Conference but then didn't come to church this past week, one who since the first time we ran into her hasn't answered her phone or her door, despite our repeated attempts, one who canceled our first meeting, and another who we recently contacted but haven't met yet. So, interesting things are happening. "Opening" an area has its challenges, especially without bike or apartment (sadness!), but it's also a lot of fun. We're discovering a lot of things around the area; where some good places to eat are, where some markets are, where the good shaved ice is, and where we can't go. But it's just a beautiful area, next to a very wide "river" which is more like an inlet, because the tide comes in and out, and it's so close to the ocean, and we have a port, and we occasionally see big cargo vessels at the mouth of "the river."

Another little fun thing; we were supposed to have another transfer of missionaries come this week; they were the group just younger than me in the MTC, and we were in the MTC at the same time, and I actually saw a couple of them during the Priesthood Session of General Conference singing in the MTC Choir, but their visas are having problems, too. So our entire transfer is probably being delayed until they arrive, which could be sometime in November.

So, when I was doing my Personal Study the other day, I came across the scripture in the Book of Mormon which I've never quite noticed before; in Alma 37:

 44 For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.
 45 And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.

I had never viewed our journey through life and compared it to Lehi's family following the compass. But when you think about it, they had to have such great faith that this was a creation of God, leading them to a land of promise, that they had no idea existed or had any idea where it was; across a great ocean, with nothing familiar in sight. And they trusted the compass.

Likewise, we have the Words of Christ, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that we put our faith in that it will, as Alma says, "carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise." And that's just a cool little comparison, maybe parable, I guess you would call it in English, and it also is something that emphasizes the importance of faith. Without faith, we really have nothing. So I just thought I'd share that scripture briefly.

By the way, next week and the week after are our mission temple days, so my Preparation Day may be changed to a Wednesday because of Temple attendance. So, if you don't get an email on the regular day, rest assured that I'm probably not dead.

Have a wonderful week!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission